Over the past few months, companies have had to adapt to a very different reality. The breakout of the pandemic meant they had to come up with new work methods, new safety procedures, and a way to ensure the physical distance between employees.
This resulted in a huge rise in the number of remote workers. Working from home is obviously not a new concept, but a lot of people have only recently encountered it for the first time, and most of them have had an initial positive attitude towards this shift. Namely, 91% of remote workers say that it’s a good fit for them.
However, they’re also facing challenges and issues they don’t know how to deal with. One of the most common ones is maintaining a high level of productivity in an environment people don’t normally associate with work. So here are a few quick tips on how to cope with this problem.
Keep work and life separated
First of all, in order to stand any chance of remaining productive in this new situation, you’ll have to set some clear boundaries. Your work and the rest of your life have to stay as separate as possible. If these two blend together, your reality may become one drab and nauseous never-ending cycle in which you’ll never really be working, but you’ll also never really stop working. In stressful times like this, it can be especially difficult to handle the consequences of this way of living.
You have to find a way to unplug. As much as 22% of remote employees consider unplugging after work their biggest challenge. So try using any method that will make you feel like you’re working or not working. Obviously, it’s best if you can afford an office or another working space of your own, but if you can’t, you should try some of these:
- Use a strictly defined area of your home as a workplace.
- Wear different clothes for “work” and “home.”
- Impose strict working hours on yourself.
- Make a list of activities that you’ll prohibit yourself from doing during work or after work.
Respect schedules and timetables
As we’ve seen, a large majority of people are happy to be working from home. They see flexible working hours as their biggest benefit, but in reality, this can turn into a disadvantage.
Schedules tend to be rigid for a reason. Surely, we all have different working habits and mentalities, which certainly means that some of us will thrive once they have the freedom to change their schedule on the run. But there has to be a limit to this in order to actually get things done. You need to control yourself in this respect and retain a fair degree of accountability so that you don’t get too complacent.
Moreover, you should have obligatory stopping points. Don’t just schedule work, schedule breaks as well, and try sticking to these routines so that you don’t get too carried away.
Mind your health
Working remotely means that your body and mind are finding themselves in the middle of an unfamiliar context and a brand new set of routines. This can potentially result in various health issues, both physical and mental.
On the one hand, you may think that you’ll be facing less stress, but on the other hand, many possible health hazards can occur while you’re working from home. The fact that you rarely leave your home now may make you messy and untidy. You may be laying in your bed all day. Your eating routines may get disrupted as you’re surrounded by loads of food all the time. Your screen time is going up as it’s the only way to communicate with your team members. These are all very unhealthy habits that can be developed.
One of the biggest dangers for your health in this context is sleep. There are multiple reasons why you might be getting less sleep when working remotely.
It’s easier to be tempted by late-night binge-watching when your schedule is less rigid or when you don’t really care how you’ll look at work tomorrow. You’ll probably have time for occasional naps, which can disturb your sleeping habits. Finally, there’s a chance you’ll be using some of your working hours to run random errands, which will mean longer after-hours at work. This, in turn, means more tension and less sleep.
All this can heavily affect your productivity. There’s a high degree of correlation between sleep and productivity, as 57% of consistent sleepers report that they get the most out of themselves, compared to just 36% of inconsistent sleepers. It’s easy to let go of yourself when you’re alone and away from everyone, but try not to do that. You should take walks, socialize, work out, sleep regularly, eat healthily, and reduce screen time if you wish to be on top of your game.
Turn the camera on
The decision whether to turn the camera on or off may not depend completely on you, as it’s often up to your manager, team lead, or other team members. However, there are solid reasons to advocate the “camera on” policy.
Simply, it keeps you more disciplined and it helps maintain the positive workplace tension that pushes you to be more productive. Without a camera, you could feel tempted to kick back and relax, or watch some TV during a meeting, or stop listening for just a second so you could check your email and then end up refreshing your Instagram for the millionth time half an hour later, having absolutely no idea what the meeting was about.
Also, it’s easier to communicate with the camera on. Since communication is already disrupted by distance and physical separation, seeing the body language of your colleagues may help you guys to better understand each other.
Document and centralize communication
Speaking of communication, it’s important to know that it can hinder productivity substantially. Noise in the workplace communication is always a danger, and it increases when people work from their homes.
That’s why you should write down as much stuff as you can, both for yourself and for others. Putting all the important info on a digital piece of paper once a meeting or a brief is finished can save a ton of time, and prevent a lot of misunderstandings. Having all the necessary new rules and procedures recorded in writing can also be very helpful.
Moreover, it’s best to have communication centralized to a large extent. Again, this might not be your decision to make, but if there are too many hiccups in communicating, you should suggest that as much correspondence as possible goes through a single channel. Switching back and forth between different messaging apps, group chats, email, and project management tools can be very confusing, distracting, and time-consuming.
You’ll still need to experiment
Keep in mind that all of these best practices are general and conditional. They are simply guidelines for things you could try in order to boost your productivity and overcome common difficulties that can arise when you shift to working from home.
But in essence, how you’ll deal with the new circumstances depends largely on your personality, temperament, and your previous working habits. If some of the strategies don’t work for you, don’t stick to them. Try everything you think could impact your work rate and simply see what happens. Working remotely may remain a new normal for a while, so if there ever was a time to really find out what makes you the most productive, it’s probably right now.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/SL5d_8ywAAA